Running solo

Jeff Archer breaks away for single season

Jeff Archer finished fifth at the OUA Championships last year, before finishing 16th at the CIS meet.
Jeff Archer finished fifth at the OUA Championships last year, before finishing 16th at the CIS meet.

When Jeff Archer takes part in cross country events this year, it won’t be as a Gael.

With one year of eligibility remaining and two years of schooling to go, the 2013 OUA cross-country All-Star has chosen to save his final CIS season for next fall.

Archer spent the past four seasons running for Queen’s while finishing the first of two undergraduate degrees. Two major factors influenced his decision.

The first was Archer’s desire to represent his country at an International University Sports Federation (FISU) meet.

“I’ve never gotten to compete at an international competition for Canada,” Archer said.

The event is held every two years and the Canadian team is made up of the top seven male and female university runners based on their results at the CIS championships. A pair of Gaels made it on the women’s side last year, but a 16th place finish at the championships kept Archer from cracking the national squad.

Archer also decided to save his final year of eligibility, he said, because next year’s Gaels men’s team should be competitive enough to medal at the national level.

“We are looking to possibly have some guys come back and some of the younger guys will have some more time to develop,” he said.

In cross-country, a year of eligibility means racing for a school in three or more meets. Under this guideline, Archer was able to represent Queen’s twice this fall while preserving the chance to run next year.

Archer won the Western International Invitational on Sept. 20, finishing the eight-kilometre race in 25:16. The Gaels finished fourth at the event, with four other men finishing in the top 50.

Last weekend in Pennsylvania, Archer won the Brown bracket of Lehigh University’s eight-kilometre Paul Short Run with a time of 24:34.

The Brown race is one level below Division I NCAA status. Archer was joined on the podium by teammate Alex Wilkie, who captured a bronze medal.

For the rest of the season, Archer won’t compete as a university athlete, but as a member of Physi-Cult, a Kingston-based club run by Gaels cross-country head coach Steve Boyd.

It’s thanks to a great off-season that Archer is faring so well this season.

“I had a pretty good indoor season last year and then just ran some good miles in the spring,” Archer said. “And I haven’t been hurt at all.”

A Kingston native, Archer spends his summers in the Limestone City.

“I train with people from the club and with Steve and do most of my workouts on my own,” he said.

Archer has several upcoming competitions and goals for the season, at both the provincial and national levels.

He’ll be running at the Athletics Ontario Cross Country Championships on Nov. 16 in Niagara Falls and the Canadian Cross Country Championships on Nov. 29 in Vancouver.

So far, the decision to take the year off from collegiate competition has had little effect on Archer’s training. He’s still a member of the Gaels team and has maintained a similar workout schedule to other seasons.

Archer said he’s also looking to compete in track events in the winter, mainly the 1500m and 3000m.

The OUA differentiates cross country races from track races, so Archer is hoping to don a Gaels uniform for two winter races, before finishing the season as an individual athlete.

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